Contrary to popular belief, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is not a bad movie. In fact, it, at times, excels and revels in some truly awe-inspiring scenes that bring mythological depth to the titular characters of the film—a feat that not even some critically-acclaimed Marvel movies can claim. Unfortunately, the reason for its current position in the poison pool of rotten movies is the fact that these scenes are few and disproportionately spread around the hefty two-and-a-half-hour runtime.
Inherently, the problem with this movie is Zack Snyder. He’s got a terrific script written by Oscar-winning “Argo” scribe Chris Terrio; fantastic performances from Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, and Gal Gadot as Wonder-Woman; good thematic scores from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL; and excellent cinematography by Larry Fong, but Snyder does not know how to tie all of these great parts of the movie together. He throws these pieces at a wall, with his great technical tools, hoping to make a beautiful painting. But, alas, you can only make so much beauty out of random motion and incohesiveness.
It has been rumored that the original run-time for the film was over six hours long, and the viewer can clearly understand why. It all seems disconnected. While the film beautifully opens with the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents—and, thus the birth of Batman—it starts to become disjointed when Snyder tries to introduce every new character and their motivations. That would not be so terrible, but a good number of the motivations and much of the depth to such fascinating characters are then lost by confusing one-liners or odd jumps in scenery and character moments. Some scenes that the general audience will certainly be jarred and disoriented by also pop out, mainly because they serve as a setup to the DC Movie Universe, and are completely irrelevant to the story at hand.
Even the titular sequence—the actual fight between Batman and Superman—left some viewers scratching their heads. I understand, to a point, why Superman would need to battle Batman, but three weeks after watching the film, reading numerous online reviews, explanations, and more, I still cannot wrap my head around why Batman would need to fight Superman. The resolution to the fight and their eventual make-up session are also as confusing. It makes more sense after critically analyzing the motivation, but it comes off as laughable when first played out on screen.
This leads to a major point, which could be a positive or negative depending on the type of viewer you are, but the film does not spoonfeed. It requires you to pay extremely close attention to the imagery, the metaphors in the dialogue, and the jarring scene transitions to piece together the point of the film yourself. In that sense, it’s not a popcorn movie, where everything is clear and dumbed-down—which, in itself, is a good thing. Yet, I am reluctant to say whether it was Snyder’s actual intention. The film was clearly hurt on the editing floor with exactly how many scenes they wanted to put in without going over the two-and-a-half-hour limit. That would negatively affect box office returns (a longer movie means fewer showtimes during the day, fewer showtimes translate to less profit). And clearly, it is absurd to expect a four-hour-long superhero film. I suspect that the numerous extended editions the film will spawn will help clarify its issues, perhaps making it a great film, but the version the viewer sees in the theater is anything but.
Go see it for the performances, the excellent cinematography, and some awesome scenes, but don’t expect much else, or else you’ll find yourself a bit disappointed like me, who eagerly waited three whole years for the movie to come out—only to find out that it is strictly “okay.”